By Sarah Whitman
Medical testing can be scary, exhausting and overwhelming.
A new nuclear medicine technology offered at Pasco Regional Medical Center was designed to make patients feel more comfortable.
The hospital is now the only hospital in the county with the BrightView nuclear imaging system, or gamma camera, from Philips Medical Systems. With the BrightView system, technicians can perform noninvasive diagnostic tests faster and with greater accuracy.
“The speed is a lot faster so patients don’t spend as much time in an uncomfortable position,” said Patty Camunas, assistant director of diagnostic imagining and nuclear medicine supervisor for the hospital.
Pasco Regional Medical has used nuclear imaging since the late 1990s and has always remained determined to keep up with the latest advancements. They received the new BrightView machine in mid June. It was ready for patient testing June 22 and there were no problems with the system, which includes a table able to hold up to 450 pounds.
The BrightView is used for thyroid, cardiac, abdominal, neurological and bone scans. All of the images are recorded electronically and accessible to the doctors by computer, where the picture appears flawless.
“I’ve only been a technician for four years and even compared to what we were using when I was in school, this technology is so much better,” said nuclear medicine technician Kevin Judd.
Camunas said the new technology helps doctors determine the best treatment options and rule out serious, sometimes life-threatening, medical conditions.
“The new technology produces a clear, crisper image that is easier for doctors to read and interpret,” she said. “Because everything is electronic, the doctors can view the results whenever, even after the technicians have gone home, which makes it better for patients because they can get their results faster.”
Nuclear imaging allows doctors to see how a body part is working, so it is commonly used to diagnose problems like gallbladder and liver disease. It also provides more reliable results and treatment staging for diseases including cancer. The technology can help prevent patients from having to undergo invasive surgical diagnostic procedures and biopsies. This also eliminates the need for anesthesia and other medications with potentially harmful side effects.
“Because the technology is precise, we are able to cut down on patient discomfort,” said Katie Bryant, marketing coordinator for the hospital. “There are no known side effects from the machines and after the procedure, patients can return to normal activities.”
Depending on the type of exam scheduled, a patient can spend anywhere from 30 minutes to approximately three hours in Pasco Regional’s nuclear imaging department. Actual imaging time can range from 15 minutes to about one hour. The new technology has sped things up drastically.
“Our cardiac scans were 15 minutes and now they are a little under six minutes,” Camunas said. “Patients are happy about that.”
Pasco Regional Medical Center is at 13100 Fort King Road in Dade City. For more information, visit www.pascoregionalmc.com.